How on earth does someone describe Inscryption? Let me tell you now, I’d heard a lot about it, but didn’t really know what it was. So I thought it would be easier to play it and explain it from there.
I was wrong. Inscryption is a gem, it’s creepy, clever, fun and well…..it’s Inscryption. I’m not sure how else to describe it. A card game, that isn’t a card game.
The Inscryption wiki describes it as so:
Inscryption is an inky black card-based odyssey that blends the deckbuilding roguelike, escape-room style puzzles, and psychological horror into a blood-laced smoothie. Darker still are the secrets inscrybed upon the cards…Inscryption Wiki | Fandom
Daniel Mullins Games
I’ll be honest and say that besides Incryption, I’ve not had much to do with Daniel Mullins games, but as far as I’m able to tell, his “The Hex” and “Pony Island” games made him a bit of an indie household name.
So it seems that Inscryption is borne out of a little bit of pedigree. I love an indie title, but largely end up following the bigger Triple-A games, largely out of habit. This has been a bit of an introduction to the indie world and some of the best 2021 releases that I never got around to.
I think it’s reasonable to say that I’ll be looking into his back catalogue at some point because Inscryption is scratching an itch I didn’t realise I had. The broody and casually aggressive background music, the weirdness of cards talking to me. It’s all there!
Rougelike card game?
I think that Inscryption works for me because it mixes a couple of genres that I’ve an affinity for. Card games/deck builders and believe it or not, roguelikes.
You’re actually doing runs, playing the same game over and over. Picking up permanent gear to aid you on future playthroughs. Hitting bosses and taking rewards. Completing little puzzles in the room you’re being held captive in. It’s great!
The card game element is wonderful, too. You’ve got attack and defence stats, then you have placement on the board to consider, abilities and how they impact both your hand and the opponent’s hand. It’s clever and whilst it’s complex, it’s pretty simple at the same time.
It takes the best of card games and deck building. Combining it with repeated runs and steady progress is just genius. I’m not sure if Inscryption is the first game to blend the genres, but it does it very well. Particularly combining it with the aesthetic.
As a premise, you’re a person that’s held captive in a cabin. Your captor is largely a set of crazy eyes in the shadows. I’ve seen hints of a beard, too.
There are little puzzles and environmental objects to interact with. As you get better at the card game you start to progress outside of the cards, too. Learning card mechanics, talking to your cards (yep!) and starting to engage with everything that you can.
Inscryption is so dense with puzzle and creativity, it’s unreal.
I’ve so far faced a couple of bosses, and encountered countless “characters”, which is the mysterious captor wearing various masks. I love how “contained” it is. You’re nameless and faceless, trapped in this weird cabin, but there’s enough to do to keep you entertained.
Every now and then, I get ahead and think to myself that I might actually have hit the point where it’s near completion. But no, I need better kit…..like perhaps I should pull out a tooth to help weigh the scales down. Or maybe just cut my eye out?
I can’t say I’ve ever played anything like Inscryption before. It’s creepy, with fantastic audio to set the tone. Graphically, it carries a lovely style combining an almost cartoon element with creepy/crazy/gruesomeness. It’s honestly just very cool.
The setting and tone aside, the gameplay is clever and fun. I can’t get over how amazing some runs have been, and how clever I’ve felt. Nor can I get over the lows of a terrible run and wasting all my equipment in the early stages of a game.
I’ve opened clocks and cages. I’ve completed slide puzzles and spoken to a jar of talking goop.
How does anyone explain this game? Inscryption is a unique game in both tone and gameplay and I love it all the more because of that.
If you’ve read about it or seen some videos and thought it looked interesting. Get yourself a copy! It’s fun, it’s clever and I’m having a blast.